Watch: ‘We need to inspire confidence in people to seek healthcare’

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Dr Natasha Azzopardi Muscat, a director at WHO Europe, said that the organisation needs to inspire confidence in people to seek healthcare in a world facing a pandemic which left some healthcare systems crippled.

Dr Azzopardi Muscat spoke to about her new role within public health on a regional level. She was previously Malta’s Chief Medical Officer and is the former president of the European Public Health Association (EUPHA). She’s now Director Country Health Policies and Systems at WHO Europe.

WHO Regional Office for Europe

Dr Azzopardi Muscat said that the political decisions about imposing lockdowns were easy when compared to the decisions which need to be taken during the transition phase. She’s already been involved in meetings with governments to understand their needs and how WHO can be of assistance.

Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Europe

Her new role will see her pushing for Universal Health Coverage in Europe. She explains that this refers to affordable and accessible healthcare for people. Dr Azzopardi Muscat says that although some countries may be facing an economic recession, research shows that governments try to protect their health care systems and actually increase their investment. Nevertheless, she says that her post-COVID-19 work will involve the safeguarding of health systems. She’ll also be working closer with nurses and doctors in order to prepare for what’s to come.

In 2018, Dr Natasha Azzopardi Muscat was profiled in the highly regarded peer-reviewed journal The Lancet. In the interview she said that she believes public health is facing huge challenges, with populist governments taking control in some countries. She was concerned that political systems were increasingly being influenced by commercial interests. Asked if she thinks Malta was suffering from these symptoms, Dr Azzopardi Muscat expressed confidence in Malta’s public health sector. She said that the coronavirus pandemic showed that countries can’t face such challenges alone.

Mixed teams produce better results

Asked about women in leadership positions in public health, Dr Natasha Azzopardi Muscat said she still remembers walking into an office full of men in Malta’s Health Ministry when she was 25 years old. Nowadays women hold a larger number of leadership positions in Malta’s public health sector. She strongly believes that mixed teams with wider representation produce better results.

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